CULT OF LILITH
"Mara"

(Metal Blade)

01. Cosmic Maelstrom
02. Purple Tide
03. Enter the Mancubus
04. Atlas
05. Comatose
06. Profeta Paloma
07. Zangano
08. Le Soupir du Fantome

RATING: 8.5/10

Death metal fans have been particularly well served this year, with countless strong releases from all over the planet. But even in these fecund times, a band like CULT OF LILITH stands out. Coming straight out of Reykjavik, Iceland, with the kind of force and ferocity that always pays dividends in the underground, this five-piece seem to have arrived fully formed and with astonishing levels of confidence driving them forward. Put simply, "Mara" is an absolutely fucking ridiculous debut album.

Regardless of the self-evident virtuoso prowess of its creators, this is an audacious opening statement: absurdly imaginative, technical death metal with fire in its belly and more brilliant ideas than seems strictly fair.

Released a month or two ago as a preview single, "Cosmic Maelstrom" offers a comprehensive manifesto from the Icelanders, via mercilessly precise grooves, GOJIRA-style melodic bellowing, skin-shredding blasts and, perhaps more surprisingly, some nimbly prodded harpsicord. Unlike a lot of self-consciously intricate death metal, CULT OF LILITH cram a huge number of hooks and memorable riffs into the mix, and "Cosmic Maelstrom" feels crafted, elegantly constructed and fiercely focused. The band's individual performances are all worthy of praise, but here technique and precision are all used in service of the song itself.

And what remarkable songs they are, almost overwhelming in their inventiveness and intensity and infernally blessed with exhilarating moments. There's the stop-start section midway through "Purple Tide" that sounds like "Prometheus"-era EMPEROR with a tech-death twist, before making a dizzying left turn into an unhinged Hammond organ solo. There's the wild blend of all-out extremity and post-punk crooning during "Enter the Mancubus"; the way "Comatose" veers from staccato brutality to dissonant squall, ending on an unsettling, ghostly piano figure; the unremitting riff assault of "Zangano", wherein vocalist Mario Infantes √Āvalos scales the harsh octaves like a grand master; the woozy acoustic reverie that begins "Le Soupir du Fantome" before CULT OF LILITH transform yet again, channelling ARCTURUS-like perversity and mischief into a thrilling barrage of hyper-precise tech-death. Not a second is wasted and every song boasts at least one jaw-dropping, unexpected element that further illuminates this band's remarkably assured identity. The production is dazzling, too. In fact, everything has fallen together so perfectly here that it's almost suspicious. Either way, CULT OF LILITH have just delivered one of the most impressive metal debuts of the year.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).